A comparative evaluation of the legislative controls on unfair terms and exemption clauses in consumer and business contracts in England and Brazil

  • Luciana Iwasa

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The purpose of the present study is to make a comparative evaluation of the legislative controls on unfairness in the context of B2B, B2C and small businesses contracts in England and Brazil. This work will focus on the examination of statutes and relevant case law which regulate exemption clauses and terms on the basis of their ‘unfairness’. The approach adopted by legislation and courts towards the above controls may vary according to the type of contract. Business contracts are more in line with the classical model of contract law according to which parties are presumably equals and able to negotiate terms. As a consequence interventions should be avoided for the sake of freedom of contract even if harmful terms were included. Such assumption of equality however is not applicable to small businesses contracts because SMEs are often in a disadvantageous position in relation to their larger counterparties.
Consumer contracts in their turn are more closely regulated by the English and Brazilian legal systems which recognised that vulnerable parties are more exposed to unfair terms imposed by the stronger party as a result of the inequality of bargaining power. For this reason those jurisdictions adopted a more interventionist approach to provide special protection to consumers which is in line with the modern law of contract. The contribution of this work therefore consists of comparing how the law of England and Brazil tackles the problem of ‘unfairness’ in the above types of contracts. This study will examine the differences and similarities between rules and concepts of both jurisdictions with references to the law of their respective regional trade agreements (EU and the Mercosul). Moreover it will identify existing issues in the English and Brazilian legislation and recommend lessons that one system can learn from the other.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJill Poole (Supervisor)


  • comparative law
  • England
  • Brazil
  • contract law
  • unfair terms
  • exemption clauses

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